Charges filed against FFRF banner vandal Joe McDonald

Using the Pennsylvania’s Department of Justice website, I have gained access to publicly available records pertaining to the charges filed against Joseph McDonald – the admitted vandal of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s holiday freethought banner which was placed on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre. [For more backgound on the FFRF banner, click here.]

Here are the records:



Charges were filed on January 2, 2013 according to the Department of Justice website. The case status is listed as active under magistrate Kane. Joe is being charged with disorderly conduct and criminal mischief (and apparently has previously been charged with failing to yield to a pedestrian).

Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Justin Vacula

Justin Vacula hosts the Stoic Philosophy Podcast; serves as co-organizer and spokesperson for the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Freethought Society; and has hosted monthly Stoic Philosophy discussion groups for the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia.

He has appeared on and hosted various radio shows and podcasts; participated in formal debates and discussions; was a guest speaker for college-level courses; was featured in local, national, and international news; and has been invited to speak at various national, local, and statewide events.

Vacula received bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology, a minor in Professional Writing, and the distinguished W.A. Kilburn Memorial Award for Philosophy from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He is currently living in the Scranton, PA area attending Marywood University’s graduate-level Mental Health Counseling program and has worked with the Arc of Luzerne County’s Transition to Community Employment program as a teacher’s assistant and job coach alongside adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

He also plays poker; volunteers as a member of the website and media team for the Greyhawk Reborn Dungeons & Dragons campaign while playing at events in the Eastern United States; and enjoys metal music.

  • p_chazz

    FFRF should be glad of McDonald. He brought them far more publicity than they would have gotten from the banner alone.

  • burn him at the stake…lol just trying to use the same methods used against non-believers!!

  • JT

    Should read “2013” for date charges filed

  • Dawn

    I hope in the punishment is repayment of the costs so they can use it to make more banners thanking him for paying for ’em!

  • evowimaxuser

    He should have to erect the banner next year, and guard it. That would be a fitting and just punishment.

  • godlessveteran

    WB mayor’s Facebook site was a real ass about the case. All of their 91 personnel were to busy with other cases for several weeks to file charges in an open-and-shut case.

    • RodneyC

      And the W-B city workers were too busy to re-erect the banner after McDonald cut it down for two weeks, even though city workers are on public square daily.

  • RodneyC

    At the magisterial hearing for McDonald’s vandalism/disorderly conduct case the W-B police will read the charges against Joe, give a detailed description of his actions, and present evidence if necessary. At this point the magistrate will turn to McDonald and ask him how he pleads to the charges being leveled against him, innocent or guilty?

    Joe can at this time explain to Magistrate Kane that he’s innocent, and the reason he’s innocent is as he stated in his Corbett interview that he’s not guilty of at least vandalism because the banner was “still there”. Plus, “it was hung too high”, and “children were murdered at Sandy Hook” as he explained in his original interview with WNEP as his motivations.

    I hope that he attempts to run that nutter game on Magistrate Kane as he attempted to do so by incoherently/ignorantly explaining and defending his actions on social networks, comment sections, and local interviews. But I seriously doubt that that’ll be the case, I’d bet that Joe will miraculously come to grips with the reality of his actions as soon as he’s asked to make a plea, no advice from a defense attorney necessary.

  • The summary lists both damage to property charges, and fighting charges. But the report is just for the fighting charges. Do you have the actual report for the property damage charge?

    • I believe disorderly conduct falls into a broader category titled ‘disorderly conduct – fighting’

      • Check the statutes in the summary 18 § 3304 §§ A5 (Criminal Mischief – Damage Property) and 18 § 5503 §§ A1 (Disorderly Conduct Engage In Fighting)

        And in the report 18 § 5503 §§ A1(Disorderly Conduct Engage In Fighting).

        There are two separate current charges, but you only have the report for the fighting one, not the property one.

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